The origin story

In 2020, a generation of parents was pushed out of the workforce

I was one of them.

In a single week, my first company failed, my twins' daycare shut down, and I became a stay-at-home parent.


Hi! I'm Helen Mayer

I'm a mom to toddler twins, a former stay-at-home parent, and the founder of Otter. I started Otter because I believe we can build childcare infrastructure that works for parents and caregivers so we can set up the next generation for success.

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How it started

The journey

March 2020
Within a week, my first company failed, my twins' daycare shut down, and I became a stay-at-home parent by default. I was planning to go back to work, so I immediately started applying for jobs.
May 2020
I got a dream job offer but had to turn it down because we didn't have access to childcare we felt was safe, reliable, and affordable in the midst of the pandemic. Frustrated, I started researching childcare so I could understand why I was watching a generation of parents be pushed out of the workforce.
July 2020
I reached out to a few parenting communities and let people know I was thinking of doing something to improve childcare. I asked people to fill out a survey and a whopping 2,000 people responded within a week. The responses were fascinating and the interest was humbling and energizing.
August 2020
I found a group of parents who were looking for other families to swap childcare with while their kids went through remote schooling. I asked them if I could help them coordinate their swaps. They agreed! By late August, I launched 50 childcare swaps.
October 2020
I noticed that the swaps with a stay-at-home parent providing care were the most successful! Intrigued, I dug deeper: the working parents who were getting childcare were thrilled with the solution but the parents who were watching their kids weren't getting paid.
I convinced the parents who were swapping care to switch to a model where parents who need childcare pay another parent to care for their child. By late October, I launched Otter with this model.
December 2020
I raised a round of seed funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from Abstract Ventures, Michael Ovitz, Kevin Hartz, Dylan Field, and Scott Belsky.
January 2021
We launched Otter in a second city and onboarded our 1000th caregiver.
July 2021
We announced our Series A led by Sequoia.

We're just getting started

We’ve helped more than 3,500 parents provide care and earn more than $20 million dollars collectively.
And in August 2022, we began welcoming caregivers of all backgrounds to the platform, including but no longer exclusively, stay-at-home parents.
Join us
People we work with

People who think we'd be lucky to have you